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Coastal marsh bird habitat selection and responses to Hurricane Sandy

November 12, 2019

Wetlands provide numerous ecosystem functions such as water purification, nutrient cycling, and wildlife habitat. Avian populations are indicators of wetland health, and understanding their responses to extreme events can aid in targeting restoration efforts following disturbance. Here, we assessed the habitat selection of six coastal wetland bird species (American Bittern, Black-crowned Night Heron, Great Egret, Glossy Ibis, Snowy Egret, Yellow-crowned Night Heron) related to an extreme weather event, Hurricane Sandy. We used Discrete Choice Resource Selection Functions to estimate habitat selection. Results showed species probability of use increased with lower elevation and slope, and closer proximity to marsh, salt marsh, Phragmites, and protected areas. Estimates of marsh dieback from Hurricane Sandy occurred disproportionately in areas with higher probability of species use. Species were observed farther from the coast and at higher elevations in the four breeding seasons after (2013–2016) compared to before (2000–2012) Hurricane Sandy. Our results indicate that although high suitability areas were affected by the storm, these six wetland bird species may have responded by moving inland and to higher elevation. Understanding how coastal wetland birds respond to storm events is important for conservation planning, particularly as storm frequency is projected to increase in the future.

Publication Year 2020
Title Coastal marsh bird habitat selection and responses to Hurricane Sandy
DOI 10.1007/s13157-019-01230-2
Authors Allison Benscoter, James Beerens, Stephanie Romanach
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Wetlands
Index ID 70206748
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Wetland and Aquatic Research Center